100 for 2000 – #52. Modern Giant – Satellite Nights

To end another wonderful decade of great music, I’m going to write about ten albums from each of the last ten years, that are either great, or hold some sort of personal significance. A musical kiss off to 00s.

2005 – #2. Modern Giant – Satellite Nights
(Popboomerang)

I have given myself over to music. It’s my life, and I listen to music all the time. It permeates my life. So it’s paradoxical that those life changing music moments come so few and far between. But had I not listened to so much music, I might not have found this. And Modern Giant definitely were life changing. They only made one album – Satellite Nights.

That life changing moment came from a link. That was all. People send links all time about music. I think it might have been a MySpace. The song was The Band’s Broken Up. It was like nothing I’ve ever heard before.

Some songs you can relate to. Some songs ARE you. The Band’s Broken Up is pretty close to the latter. It’s got the look of a jangly pop song, but it’s mainly spoken word. And that word is in such a charming Australian accent. And then a rousing chorus.

But it’s the song matter that really hits home. It’s actually Adam’s life. Opening with the spoken refrain of “Midnight Oils, the Hummingbirds, the Clash”, we go on a journey of watching little gigs on your own, to going to parties where bands played in living rooms, to meeting girls who held such promise. We move onto regret about not learning guitar, moving overseas, coming back, hitting it off with a girl and how, in a brilliant finale, the band we saw that night has now broken up.

And it’s not like it’s some super long narrative. It’s all in this one pop song, running a little over four and a half minutes.

So it’s not Midnight Oils, the Hummingbirds or, really, the Clash that are my three bands, but they are just totems for what this song is about. The song mentions the suburb of Annandale, whereas I spent more time in Newtown parties. But if the facts are wrong, the feeling is so right. I went to those gigs. I watched those girls walked passed me. And sometimes I got it right. Even the part about going overseas has come true, and I’m sure that bit about coming home will too.

Midnight Oils, the Hummingbirds and the Clash also really neatly sums up Modern Giant. The Band’s Broken Up comes from a long, but obscured, history of Australian pub rock bands doing a spoken word song, as summed up by the Oils. And there’s an Australian feel to them, especially the beach. The trippy guitars on a track like Hell Is Other People is very Midnight Oils, and very Australian rock.

But they aren’t a rock band. There is huge dollops of pop, and in a strummy, indie, British way. And the Australian band the Hummingbirds sums that up (the guitarist from the Hummingbirds, Simon Holmes, produced the record). And it was by no means all spoken word. Guitarists Andy Meehan and Gynia Favot both sang. And having a female voice is the quick shorthand to the kind of pop band this was (ie the Hummingbirds). I Thought You Were Somebody Else is as big a lovely sugar rush as any pop song this decade.

And then there’s the Clash. Not that they wrote punk anthems. No. But they did a DIY ethic. Just like a man years later would declare Joe Strummer was our only decent teacher, so was this band enthralled by the right principles of DIY. They made all their own t-shirts and bags with cool logos. I still have my bag, even here in London.

So I loved the band, as I do when it’s love, basically followed the band around. I offered to sell t-shirts for them a few times, got to know some of the guys quite well. The bands I played in, we played a lot with Modern Giant. They were almost the only band in Sydney I waned to play with.

They put out an EP on their own. All the songs on that EP would appear on Satellite Nights. It came out on a friend’s label – Popboomerang – a great pop label. Their owner, Scott, reckons I passed him the music, which is nicely full circle.

This is such a long piece anyway, so I had better stop. The rest is a story for another time and another forum. Another EP followed. A mutual crush on Angie Hart. My love for I’m Not Broken. How I played bass and keyboards. A drunken birthday in Paris.

Sadly though, the band has broken up.

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